As Many As Tens of Thousands of Eligible Voter Registration at Risk
For Immediate Release:
Voting rights experts urge Colorado officials to modify policy and protect all CO voters' rights
Colorado – Voting rights experts urged the Colorado Secretary of State today to immediately modify a policy regarding
voter registration forms that threatens to jeopardize the eligibility of tens of thousands of Colorado voters. In a
letter sent to Secretary Mike Coffman, the Brennan Center for Justice, Colorado Common Cause, the Lawyers' Committee for
Civil Rights Under Law, ACLU of Colorado, the Advancement Project, Fair Elections Legal Network, SEIU, and the Mexican
American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) asked that the state accept registration applications that contain
all necessary identifying information, but lack a checkmark in a superfluous box. Currently, the state is considering
these applications "incomplete." If this policy goes unchanged, tens of thousands of eligible Colorado voters could be
denied their rights.
"This indefensible policy unfairly punishes a significant portion of the Colorado electorate over an unnecessary
technicality," said Jenny Flanagan at Colorado Common Cause. "Coloradans did their part by filling out voter
registration forms with all the information necessary to confirm their identities and in compliance with training
manuals put out by the SOS" office. Now, election officials need to do their part to ensure these people's votes count
In accordance with the Help America Vote Act of 2002 ("HAVA"), the Colorado voter registration form asks voters to
provide a state-issued identifying number—either a Driver's License or Department of Revenue identification number.
Eligible Coloradoans who do not have either number are asked to provide the last four digits of their Social Security
Number. The problem arises when a voter provides her Social Security digits but does not check a box to affirmatively
indicate that she does not have the requested state-issued numbers. According to voting rights experts, these
applications include all the necessary information for establishing eligibility and should therefore be counted.
Treating applications without checkmarks as incomplete is inconsistent with both the National Voter Registration Act of
1993 and Section 1971 of the Voting Rights Act. Like the butterfly ballot that led to the 2000 election debacle in
Florida, Coloradans will be treated unfairly because of the poor design and guidance from the state. In fact, some
registration applications don't clearly indicate that failing to check the box will render the application incomplete.
Moreover, the system for rectifying these mistakes proposed by the state is rife with potential for administrative
failure leading to more eligible votes lost.
As many as ten thousand applications have been affected by this policy to date. If it is kept in place, that number will
likely increase dramatically between now and November 4th, threatening to disenfranchise thousands more Colorado voters
and the integrity of our electoral system.